Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Kevin Holm-Hudson


Parsimonious voice leading is a term, first used by Richard Cohn, to describe non-diatonic motion among triads that will preserve as many common tones as possible, while limiting the distance traveled by the voice that does move to a tone or, better yet, a semitone. Some scholars have applied these principles to seventh chords, laying the groundwork for this study, which strives toward a reasonably comprehensive, usable model for musical analysis.

Rather than emphasizing mathematical proofs, as a number of approaches have done, this study relies on two- and three-dimensional geometric visualizations and spatial analogies to describe pitch-class and harmonic relationships. These geometric realizations are based on the organization of the neo-Riemannian Tonnetz, but they expand and apply the organizational principles of the Tonnetz to seventh sonorities. It allows for the descriptive “mapping” or prescriptive “navigation” of harmonic paths through a defined space.

The viability of the theoretical model is examined in analyses of passages from the repertoire of Frédéric Chopin. These passages exhibit a harmonic syntax that is often difficult to analyze as anything other than “tonally unstable” or “transitional.” This study seeks to analyze these passages in terms of what they are, rather than what they are not.

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